The Los Angeles Dodgers are returning to the World Series. Saturday night the Dodgers picked up a 5-1 win (box score) over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park to clinch their second straight National League pennant. Los Angeles will take on the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.
This the 23rd National League pennant for the Dodgers (plus one in the American Association), tying them with the Giants for the second most in baseball history behind (who else?) the Yankees. (The Yankees have 40 pennants.) The Dodgers will try for the seventh World Series title in franchise history this year. In many ways, Game 7 was a microcosm of the 2018 season for the Dodgers. They fell behind early and socked a bunch of dingers to climb back and take the lead.
As for the Brewers, the Game 7 loss is a disappointing end to an otherwise wildly successful season. They went 96-67 and beat the Cubs in a Game 163 tiebreaker to not only win the NL Central, but finish with the best record in the NL. The Brewers tied the franchise record for wins and pushed a dangerous Dodgers team to seven games in the NLCS. Ain’t no shame in that.
Here is everything you need to know about NLCS Game 7.
Buehler joined an exclusive club
Saturday night Walker Buehler became only the tenth rookie in baseball history to start a Game 7. Including the Wild Card Game and Game 5 in best-of-five series, Buehler is only the 19th rookie to start a winner-take-all postseason game. Here are the Game 7 rookies:
- 2018 NLCS: Walker Buehler, Dodgers (no decision)
- 2007 ALCS: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox (win)
- 2002 World Series: John Lackey, Angels (win)
- 1997 World Series: Jaret Wright, Indians (no decision)
- 1987 World Series: Joe Magrane, Cardinals (no decision)
- 1964 World Series: Mel Stottlemyre, Yankees (loss)
- 1952 World Series: Joe Black, Dodgers (loss)
- 1947 World Series: Spec Shea, Yankees (no decision)
- 1912 World Series: Hugh Bedient (no decision)
- 1909 World Series: Babe Adams, Pirates (win)
Buehler pitched well in Game 7 — quite well, in fact — though manager Dave Roberts wouldn’t let him go through the lineup a third time. Lorenzo Cain roped a double into the left field corner with two outs in the fifth inning and that was it, Buehler was out of the game after 73 pitches.
Failing to complete five innings means the starting pitcher can’t get a win for … reasons, so Buehler gets saddled with a no-decision. I’m sure he doesn’t mind one bit.
Yeli and Belli started the fun with early homers
Overall, it was a sluggish NLCS for MVP candidate Christian Yelich. Yelich went 4 for 24 (.167) in the first six games of the series, though five walks allowed him to post a respectable .310 on-base percentage. . It cleared the wall by maybe four inches, but hey, they all count the same.
Yelich gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead and it lasted four batters. Manny Machado led off the second inning with a bunt single — it was not just any bunt single, it was the first bunt single in a 3-2 count by any hitter since 2014 — then Jhoulys Chacin left a 90 mph spinner right out over the plate to Cody Bellinger. That’s no good. Bellinger did bad things to that poor baseball.
With that two-run home run, Chacin allowed multiple runs in a start for the first time since September 21. In his four starts between September 21 and NLCS Game 7, he allowed one, one, zero, and zero runs. That’s two runs in 21 total innings before Bellinger plated two with one swing.
Also, the Dodgers scored four runs total against Brewers starters in the NLCS going into Game 6. Granted, that is skewed a bit by Wade Miley’s one-batter deke start in Game 5, but still. The Dodgers upped that total by 50 percent on Bellinger’s homer.
Hader was in the game early
How early? In the third inning. Brewers manager Craig Counsell did not mess around. With two on and two outs and the pitcher’s spot due up in the bottom of the second, he sent Jonathan Schoop to the plate to pinch-hit for Chacin. Schoop grounded out to third to end the inning.
With Chacin out of the game, Hader entered to face the top of the lineup in the third inning. As you might imagine, it was the earliest he’s entered a game all season. Hader stayed in long enough to face 10 batters and record nine outs. He threw 31 pitches.
Hader’s lineup spot came up with one out in the fifth inning and it appeared he would’ve remained in the game (to bunt, presumably) had No. 8 hitter Orlando Arcia reached base to start the inning. Instead, after Arcia made an out, Counsell went to pinch-hitter Domingo Santana. Santana struck out, but the idea was that he could run into one and tie the game on one swing.
Taylor saved the lead
Put a star next to this one in your score book. With two outs and a runner on second in the fifth inning, Yelich lifted a hard-hit fly ball to left field that Chris Taylor managed to run down in the gap. Look at this catch:
Incredible. That stranded the runner on second and preserved the 2-1 lead for the Dodgers. Between that and Andrew Benintendi’s , we’ve seem some spectacular outfield defense this postseason.
Welcome to Puigtober
The Game 7 dagger, courtesy of Yasiel Puig:
Lordy. Look at that bat flip. That is a man who knows he Got All Of It. Puig’s three-run home run turned a 2-1 Dodgers lead into a 5-1 Dodgers and increased their chances of winning Game 7 from 67.3 percent to 91.1 percent. In terms of championship probability added, it is far and away the biggest hit of the season. Here are the five biggest hits of 2018 to date (via The Baseball Gauge):
- NLCS Game 7: Puig’s three-run home run vs. Jeremy Jeffress (+0.127 CPA)
- NLCS Game 7: Bellinger’s two-run home run vs. Chacin (+0.088 CPA)
- NLCS Game 4: Bellinger’s walk-off single vs. Junior Guerra (+0.067 CPA)
- NLCS Game 2: Justin Turner’s two-run home run vs. Jeffress (+0.067 CPA)
- ALCS Game 4: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run home vs. Josh James (+0.061 CPA)
As for Jeffress, he picked a bad time to struggle for the Brewers. Not just in NLCS Game 7 either, the entire postseason. The man who allowed 11 earned runs in 76 2/3 regular season innings allowed six earned runs in eight innings in the postseason. Ouch.
Kershaw closed it out
Prior to Game 7, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it was “hard to see a scenario that (Clayton Kershaw is) not a part of this game.” Roberts was able to get five outs from Ryan Madson thanks to the breathing room created by Puig’s home run, and, with two outs in the seventh, he went to closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen finished the seventh and tossed the eighth inning as well. That set Kershaw up for a quick and tidy ninth inning.
This is the third straight postseason Kershaw has come out of the postseason in an elimination game. He threw four scoreless innings in Game 7 of the World Series last year and also recorded the save in NLDS Game 5 against the Nationals two years ago. Kershaw didn’t get a save Saturday night because the Dodgers led by four, but recording the final three outs to clinch the pennant is not nothing.
The Dodgers won their first Game 7 in a long time
The last time the Dodgers won a Game 7? You have to go back to the 1988 NLCS, when Orel Hershiser tossed a five-hit shutout against the Mets. Yeah, it’s been a while. But, to be fair, prior to Saturday night the Dodgers had only played one Game 7 since 1988. That was Game 7 of the World Series last year, which they lost to the Astros. That doesn’t take away from the fact this was the first Game 7 for the Dodgers in a very long time.
As for the Brewers, they are now 0-2 all-time in Game 7s. They lost Saturday and they lost Game 7 of the 1982 World Series to the Cardinals.
It’s been a while since the NL had a back-to-back pennant winner
For the first time since the 2014-15 Royals and the first time on the NL side since the 2008-09 Phillies, a team is going to back-to-back World Series. The Dodgers of course lost the World Series in seven games to Houston last season. They hope for a better outcome this year against the powerful Red Sox. Los Angeles has not won the World Series in three decades now. They last won a title back in 1988 thanks (in part) to Kirk Gibson’s iconic home run.
The World Series begins Tuesday
The matchup is now set. The 2018 World Series will begin Tuesday night at Fenway Park in Boston. That is an 8 p.m. ET start, as is every World Series game this year. Chris Sale will be on the mound for the Red Sox. The Dodgers have not yet announced their Game 1 starter but I would imagine Kershaw is still in play even after throwing the ninth inning in Game 7 on Saturday.
By the way, the Dodgers and Red Sox have met in the World Series before. Back in 1916. The Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins at the time. The Red Sox won that series in five games. Babe Ruth allowed one run in 14 innings in Boston’s Game 2 win.
Relive Game 7
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